Easter Sunday is a day to celebrate life, and NBC is doing its part by bringing Jesus to life on the small screen — well, live on the small screen, anyhow. “Jesus Christ Superstar” — the ’70s rock opera that’s dominated Broadway, toured the world, and even became a movie in 1973 — is being reimagined with John Legend in the lead role of our Lord and savior.
Billed as a staged concert, the production will air live from the Marcy Armory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y., and NBC has recruited an all-star crew to bring the beloved music to life. David Leveaux (“Nine”) is directing alongside Emmy Award-winning live television director and executive producer Alex Rudzinski (“Hairspray Live!”), Emmy- and Tony Award-winning costumer designer Paul Tazewell (“The Wiz Live!”), and the musical director of the “Jesus Christ Superstar” world arena tour, Nigel Wright.
Oh, and the cast? In addition to Legend, Sara Bareilles stars as Mary Magdalene, Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, Alice Cooper as King Herod, Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate, Norm Lewis as Caiaphas, Jin Ha as Annas, Jason Tam as Peter, and Erik Gronwall as Simon Zealotes.
The two-hour-and-fifteen-minute broadcast is based on the final week of Jesus’ life. The album hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts and made its way to the stage in 1971. The 1971 musical opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway and starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus and Ben Vereen as Judas. It was nominated for five Tonys, including Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Vereen. Lloyd Webber won a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer.
Below, you can follow along with the IndieWire TV team throughout the airing for our assessment of the best and worst moments as they happen.
“Jesus Chris Superstar: Live” airs Sunday, April 1 at 8 p.m. ET.